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Critical Error 55

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Paul said, “Drop me here.  There won’t be enough room at the cabins for the car.  I’ll take my truck and bring some of the family back with me.  Stay close once we’re on the highway.  We don’t need any more injuries.”

As soon as the truck showed up, they raced out to greet him.  “Ok, let’s get back to the cabin.  Officer Deans here can take three or four of you with him, and the rest can come with me.”

Andrew voted to go with Paul, while the others were fascinated at the prospect of riding in an unmarked patrol car.  Paul led the way.  “Paul, what’s going on?”

“A change of plans.  That man on the ground back there, was Officer Harold Marks, the officer assigned to assist us.  Obviously, he never made it.”

“We haven’t found his car yet but we’re hoping once he regains consciousness, he’ll be able to explain what happened.  Until then, Officer Deans is going to take his place.”

Once they reached their assigned cabins, Paul got out and opened the door to the cottage he would be sharing with the Martin family, while Deans unlocked the other.  He motioned the family to stay put while they made a quick sweep of both cabins.  Once he’d verified both cabins were clear he motioned for the others to follow.

As soon as they were inside, Paul filled them in on what was happening.  Eyes like saucers, they stared in silence.  He went on to explain what he expected.  Again his words were met with silence.

“We’re going to split up.  Brandon and Cliff, you’re going with Officer Deans to share a cabin and I expect you to follow his instructions to the letter.”

“Yes, sir.”

“While we don’t know for sure that what happened to Officer Marks is connected, I’m not prepared to take any unnecessary chances; we’re going to take it slow and easy.”

“What do you want us to do?”  Eilea asked.

“I know it won’t be easy, but I need you all to act as naturally as possible so we don’t alert anyone.”

“Everyone clear on what’s happening?”

“I guess so.”

“Good.”

Officer Deans stationed himself beside the front door as instructed.

“Anyone interested in a game of cards?”  Eilea asked.

“Sounds good to me, I’m in,” the guys answered one by one.

“Mom, can I speak to you for a minute?”  They walked into the adjoining kitchen and Christina said, “I’d rather stay with Brandon.”

“Right now, the most important thing is everyone’s safety.”

Flopping on the chesterfield, she turned the tv on. The card game was short lived and the other teens went to join Christina, stretching out on the floor and anywhere else they could find to lay down.

Eilea and Paul sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee.  “How about you, Eilea, you up for a game of cards?”

“Sure.  What card games do you know?”

“Poker, poker and poker.”

She laughed.  “Ah, room for expansion.”

“If you say so,” he teased.

Leaning close and she whispered, “They don’t look too happy.”

“A day is a lifetime to a teenager.  They’ll get over it.”

Paul shuffled the cards and handed the deck to Eilea to cut.  “Highest card deals?”

“Well, we know who is going to deal this round.”

“Alright, are you ready for thirty-one?” she asked.

“Sure, but you’ll have to explain the rules.”

Paul was lucky at cards and won several rounds.  “Anyone else want to take on the champ?”

“You bet, you’re on,” Christina volunteered and Eilea traded places with her, opting to watch TV instead.  That was the cue for the other teens to sit in as well.   An uninterrupted and exciting hour of cards ensued.  When the show Andrew had been watching ended, he announced that he’d like to play.  He sat down, dealt and cleaned house.

“I’m going to turn in,” Theresa said.

“Yeah, me too,” Christina agreed.  “Thanks for the game, Paul.  I’ll get you next time.”

“I look forward to it.”

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